Fernando Alonso has got involved in a spat with Pirelli over the tyres in use this weekend in Korea. They are the same supersoft and medium compound tyres used in Singapore, but Alonso criticised them after qualifying, saying that Ferrari seemed to have a particular problem with graining on the supersofts this weekend and if he pushed them too hard in the first sector he risked not being able to complete the lap.
“The tyres cannot do five kilometres. If you push them, you finish the tyres. It’s something that is not normal,” he said in the paddock after qualifying. “We have to be honest and the quality of the tyres is very on the limit.
“It is the same for everybody and I am sure all the cars, if they pushed 100 per cent from the start of the lap, they would not last 5km. So this is not very helpful, and it is not very nice to drive like this for 95 per cent of the lap.
“I am not blaming the tyres. But they are not good. We all see with our eyes. But it is the same tyres for everybody.”
Alonso, who sees his hopes of competing for the world championship receding with every track session at the moment, qualified sixth in Korea, 0.8 seconds off the pace of championship leader Sebastian Vettel. There were criticisms of the tyres in the first half of the season, when they were very much on the edge and in Silvertsone, Spain and Bahrain suffered failures which led to a forced change of construction, back to the 2012 model with a kevlar belt instead of steel. This has definitely hurt Ferrari’s competitiveness, as it has Force India and to some extent Lotus. But Ferrari has also failed to bring through powerful upgrades to its car to keep it on terms with the Red Bull. In the first quarter of the season Alonso and Ferrari were winning races.
Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery did not hold back in his response to Alonso’s criticisms.
“Of course Alonso is one of the great F1 drivers, so to hear such comments is disappointing and below the standards you would expect from such a champion,”Hembery told Reuters.
“I can only suggest he goes to ask the soon-to-be four-times champion how to get the best from the same tyres.”
The FIA World Motor Sport Council confirmed last week that Pirelli would continue to supply tyres to F1 in 2014, but added that it would be closely monitoring quality. Alonso’s criticism at this moment will have irked Pirelli, as Hembery’s tone suggests.